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News from the Virginia Conference – July 14, 2010

Nothing for volunteers to do to help clean up Gulf Coast oil spill
The phone calls keep coming at the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) offices in Washington. National volunteers who turned out by the tens of thousands to help clean up and rebuild destroyed homes after Hurricane Katrina five years ago are desperate to lend a hand again in the face of the Gulf Coast oil spill. But the problem with this oil disaster, explained the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, who directs UMCOR’s disaster response for the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, is that his organization doesn't know what to tell the would-be missionaries. “Our phones are ringing, people are wanting to do something, but there’s nothing for them to do,” said Hazelwood. More …

Churches urged to join prayer vigil to oppose Arizona law
Every day since SB 1070, Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, was introduced, immigrants and activists have been keeping a constant vigil at the Arizona Statehouse. This summer, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition is coordinating the Isaiah 58 National Solidarity Vigil and Fast for Arizona to support those who are praying and standing strong in Arizona. Each week from June 6 to August 1, the vigil will roll from one group of states to the next to engage people of faith in the assigned states in constant prayer, public prayer events and advocacy for immigration reform. Virginia residents are asked to take up constant prayer starting at midnight July 18 continuing through July 24. Members of the Arlington UMC Latino congregation will be in prayer at 5 a.m. each of these days and are encouraging people to fast as well. Crossroads UMC, Ashburn, has planned a 24-hour prayer vigil and has invited other congregations to join them. Click here for more information or contact Martha Stokes, Virginia Conference director of Leadership and Inclusivity, 1-800-768-6040, ext. 154, or (804) 521-1154.

Program Grant applications due Aug. 1
Applications for Special Program Grants and Sustaining Grants for 2011 are due in the office of Connectional Ministries by Aug. 1. Special Program Grants are designed for programs outside of normal conference and local church funding processes. They are intended to provide funding for the first three years of innovative programs of tangible and caring outreach that is beyond a local church’s current financial resources. Sustaining Grants are designed for programs outside of normal conference and local church funding processes. They are intended to provide funding for the sustaining of innovative programs of tangible and caring outreach that is beyond a local church’s current financial resources. Grants are for churches of all ethnic groups and should help the church requesting the funding to relate to the ethnic groups within its community. For more information on these grants and access to applications, go to

Lay nominee form for 2012 General/Jurisdictional Conference now on Web
The Lay Nominee Form (Word file) to be completed by laity who wish to put their names forward for election as delegates to the 2012 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences has been posted on the Virginia Conference Web site. Click here for the form or go to the conference home page (, then click on the link in the blue right-hand column, about halfway down the page. The form must be submitted to the appropriate district office. For more information, contact your district office.

Online form to help connect college students with faith communities
Virginia Conference United Methodist campus ministries (Wesley Foundations, ecumenical partnerships and United Methodist schools) rely on your help in identifying United Methodist students so the students can be contacted and welcomed on campuses across the conference. A new online form replaces the previous method of mailing in paper forms. Completion of the form is quick, easy and should help campus ministries contact students more quickly throughout the summer and academic year. Anyone can fill out the form — pastor, youth director, parent, friend, or student — so consider including this link in your bulletins and newsletters: Click here to take a moment to help identify students that campus ministers and chaplains should get to know.

The Resource Center acquires three new books
The Resource Center, the official library for lending audio/visual and print resources to churches in the Virginia Conference, has acquired three new books: Sacred Scripture: A Short History Of Interpretation by Richard Soulen, Following God’s Call: Individual Volunteers In Mission by Walter A. and Betty C. Whitehurst, and Breaking Through The Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Religious Leaders in Their Own Words edited by Maureen Fiedler. Click here for more …

Camp Overlook hosts ‘Stretch Out Your Hand’ retreat Aug. 13-15
Overlook Retreat and Camp Ministries will host a "Stretch Out Your Hand" retreat focused on spiritual journey in prayer Aug. 13-15 at Blessings Lodge. The event will include presentations on how to listen to God to discern prayer, small group sharing time, creative worship experiences, and quiet space for deeper reflection. A $120 registration fee includes lodging, four meals and program costs. Register online at

Middle School Mission Weekends introduce students to mission
Middle School Mission Weekends — Aug. 27-29 and Oct. 15-17 at Westview on the James in Goochland — are an opportunity to introduce middle school students (6th- to 8th-graders) to mission and help them understand what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ. Throughout the weekend, middle school youths will put their faith into action as they serve the people of the local community through small home repairs and lawn care for families that do not have the financial and/or physical means to do such maintenance or repairs themselves. Click here for more information or to register.

Kid’s Work Camp set for Sept. 24-26 at Westview on the James
Westview on the James, United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center in Goochland, will offer a weekend of outreach opportunities for 3rd- to 6th-graders at Kid's Work Camp Sept. 24-26. Students and their leaders will travel into the community for mission projects such as demolition work, raking leaves, hauling wood, turning over gardens, pulling weeds, etc. Worship and Bible Study will be led by United Methodist children's leaders. Weather permitting, students will have fun on Westview Lake and will have a chance to connect with other students from the Virginia Conference. Cost for the weekend is $75 per person. For more information, call the camp office at (804) 457-4210 or go to

You might have investments in BP, Transocean, Halliburton
If you have a pension with The United Methodist Church, you have investments in BP, Transocean Ltd., and Halliburton. Likewise, if you have a fund with the United Methodist Church Foundation, you also could have a stake in BP. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Those investments might be the best chance the church has to influence these energy companies to clean up the oil spill now darkening the Gulf and clean up their acts, say church officials. "Our position has always been that it's better to have a seat at the table than none at all," said David Zellner, chief investment officer with the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. More …

Fellowship celebrates anniversary by sharing ideas for ministry
In celebration of the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, the organization will share five new ideas for ministry on a variety of topics on the fifth day of each month. July’s featured ideas contain tips on introducing new songs in a contemporary or blended worship service. The tips include introducing the song during offering or as special music, playing the song as people exit worship, previewing new songs on a CD in the lobby as a “teaser” and teaching the congregation the chorus while the worship team sings the verses. Click here for a list of all the ideas for July.

Call to Action research indicates opportunities, challenges
First, the bad news: The United Methodist Church needs to change its operations denomination-wide to address financial challenges and be more relevant in its ministry around the globe. Then, the good news: Despite these challenges, many churches of varied sizes and settings have found ways to grow and thrive. Those are the findings of two studies by independent researchers released this week by the denomination's Call to Action Steering Team. Reports included an "Operational Assessment of the Connectional Church" and a "Congregational Vitality" overview. The 16-member Call to Action Steering Team, which includes clergy and laity, will present recommendations based on the studies to the denomination's Council of Bishops and Connectional Table in November. Both of the reports are available for review at, and readers can share observations and suggestions through the Web site.

Number of General Conference delegates to be set in November
The number of delegates at the 2012 General Conference (and the number of delegates from each conference) will be determined in November. General Conference, the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, meets once every four years to consider revisions to church law as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. The church's Constitution states that General Conference "shall be composed of not less than 600 nor more than 1,000 delegates" but the current formula for the distribution of delegates allocates more than 1,000 delegates. Last October, the United Methodist Judicial Council ruled that: "The Secretary of the General Conference has the authority to determine the number of delegates that each annual and missionary conference will elect to the General Conference within the provisions of the Constitution and the legislative enactments of the General Conference." That person, the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist, said he is awaiting analysis of 2009 membership statistics to see how the size of the General Conference may affect representation. The 2012 meeting will take place April 24-May 4 at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida.

Haiti recovery continues at six-month mark
July 12 marked the six-month anniversary of the massive earthquake in Haiti. During that period, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has re-opened a field office in Port-au-Prince, providing immediate assistance to survivors and laying the groundwork for long-term recovery. More information about UMCOR's work, including a slideshow and worship materials, is available at the Haiti resource page. Gifts to support UMCOR's work can be made online by visiting

Aug. 10 is deadline to apply for Ethnic Local Church Grant
Aug. 10 is the deadline to apply for an Ethnic Local Church Grant from the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). The grants are to strengthen ethnic minority local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice. Grant recipients must be programs initiated by or developed in partnership with one or more United Methodist ethnic minority local churches to address chronic social problems or concerns. Two funding periods are available for consideration: Aug. 10 is the deadline for the October cycle and Jan. 10 is the deadline for the March cycle. More …

Socially Responsible Investing Summit to be Oct. 18-19 in KC
“Socially Responsible Investing Summit” will be Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 18-19, on the campus of St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. The summit will enable an exchange of ideas about The United Methodist Church’s evolving understanding of socially responsible investing policy and practices. Registration fee of $50 will cover all materials, plenary and breakout sessions, speakers and evening meal on Oct. 18. Registration is limited to 100. Deadline to register is July 31. Click here for more information. Click here to register online.

For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly newsmagazine. Click here to subscribe online. Or call Peggy Cribbs at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail


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